June 17, 2010, 3:26 PM

Gathering customer feedback goes mobile

A new customer feedback system developed by OpinionLab allows businesses to collect and analyze comments from mobile users in real time, the company says.

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The proliferation of smartphones has changed the way consumers use the Internet to shop. Instead of deskbound at home or the office, consumers can access the web virtually anywhere, including as they walk through brick-and-mortar stores. A new customer feedback system developed by OpinionLab Inc. allows businesses to collect and analyze comments from mobile users in real time, OpinionLab says.

Consumers can download the DialogCentral system for free to an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch device from either DialogCentral.com or Apple Inc.’s online iTunes store. Other mobile device platforms will be added over the next few months, OpinionLab says.

After clicking the DialogCentral app, consumers will see a list of businesses near their present location and can open a simple comment card for each one and write messages, rate the service they received, and leave their e-mail address if they wish.

Visitors provide page ratings and comments while DialogCentral captures context and behavior such as page, time on page, referring page, screen resolution, operating system and the consumer’s browser. DialogCentral can then instantly view visitor comments and ratings along with context and behavior from any page of their site, the company says.

Most consumers will hear about the new service from the retail outlets where they shop, says Rand Nickerson, OpinionLab’s CEO. Any store that registers with DialogCentral will receive free point-of-sale signage that prominently display the phrase “We Listen” and explains to shoppers they can use the feedback system on their web-enabled mobile devices.  In the next few weeks, several major retailers will announce partnerships with DialogCentral, Nickerson adds.  

If a business is not registered with DialogCentral, OpinionLab will still notify it whenever one of its customers submits a comment card. But, before it can receive the information, the business will have to register and go through a quick verification process. The service is free for businesses that just want access to real-time comments. For paying clients, OpinionLab sorts the information and can prepare reports on how customers have reacted to products and services.

OpinionLab provides a similar comment card system for about 12,000 web sites. And earlier this year, the company unveiled a feedback tool specifically designed to be deployed on mobile web sites, as opposed to being deployed as an app downloaded to a mobile device. But since it takes a dedicated customer to seek out not just a retailer’s web site, but to click OpinionLab’s “[+]” feedback symbol to open up the cards, Nickerson says most companies are still not acquiring data from a large customer base. However, since the DialogCentral tool will sit handily on users’ mobile phones as an app, Nickerson says he figures a much larger group will use it.  

Currently, brick-and-mortar shops supply written suggestion slips or print their web site addresses on paper receipts, in hopes of generating feedback. But in a few years, those may be obsolete, Nickerson says.



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